SAN DIEGO – American Red Cross officials voted Thursday to remove the entire board of the agency’s troubled San Diego chapter, hoping to put to rest questions over the handling of aid for victims of a 2001 fire.
“We came to the difficult conclusion that nothing short of a fresh start would give the San Diego/Imperial Counties chapter of the Red Cross a chance to rebuild,” said Jim Topping, national chair of the chapter services network.
The decision comes one week after national Red Cross officials removed Dodie Rotherham, the San Diego chapter’s chief executive officer for two decades.
Rotherham and other Red Cross officials were criticized over how the chapter handled $410,000 in donations for victims of the January 2001 fire in Alpine, east of San Diego. Last year, a national audit found less than $25,000 had gone directly to victims.
Red Cross officials in Washington said in a statement that the San Diego chapter had become “deeply paralyzed” over many issues. The executive committee of the Red Cross’ national board of directors also voted to suspend the San Diego chapter’s local bylaws.
A local advisory committee will work with interim management to get the San Diego chapter back on its feet.
The California Attorney General’s office has opened an investigation into the San Diego Red Cross, focussing on whether local officials have been raising and spending money appropriately.
County officials also are investigating allegations of fraud in the nonprofit organization’s transportation program.